Job 13:15; 19:25-27; 9:32-34
Unlike a lot of devotions I’ve submitted, today’s reading really bounces around. The reason for this is pretty obvious if you’ve read the book of Job: Most of his speeches were mostly filled with despair, anger, lament, and defensiveness, not hope. The passages above constitute what I call “sparks in the dark,” as Job’s faith in his Lord shone through and pierced the darkness of his soul.
You might recognize these verses, since they tend to be famous passages that people cling to when they are experiencing tough times. If you’ve ever heard Handel’s Messiah in its entirety, you’ve heard Job’s belief that “My redeemer liveth” in its third section. They’ve been used in several Christian songs of hope.
As I mentioned a couple of posts prior, the saints in the Old Testament had a much more vague understanding of the afterlife. Theologians use the term progressive revelation to mean that the Lord has, over time, revealed more and more about himself and his ultimate plan for humanity, so that David knew more than Moses, who knew more than Abraham, and we know more than all of them. The common word for the grave, sheol, was a generalized term which was used for the abode of both the righteous and unrighteous after death. They knew that God Almighty as just, and they could see with their own eyes that most of the time justice is not even close to perfect in this life, so they believed that there was some form of reward and punishment dispensed in the afterlife. But the Lord hadn't laid out many details about this.
In the book of Job, however, we have the clearest expressions of hope found in the entire Old Testament. Despite what everything was telling him, he believed that God still loved him and was worthy of complete trust. He knew that one day he'd be resurrected, and would see the face of his Lord, and all would be made right. Notice what he called his Lord—Redeemer. Yes, that’s same word we talked about in the book of Ruth. God was his goel, his Kinsman-redeemer who'd avenge what had been done to him and would pull him out of this pit. The NIV actually has an alternate translation: "Vindicator," the One who'd eventually prove Job right. Job had trusted in his Lord, and eventually the Lord would prove that Job was right to do so.
Per usual, C.S. Lewis put it so well: "Faith... is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods." And that's nowhere better demonstrated than in the life of Job right in these verses. He'd believed all these things about the final Resurrection before all this calamity had happened to him, and he chose to believe it and act on it now, despite what his wife, his friends, the circumstances, and his feelings told him.
But there was a problem. God was up there, and Job was down here on earth. How could he possibly plead his case in God’s court? The Almighty, as the title suggests, is all-powerful, and there was no appeal from his judgments. Job needed an advocate, someone who could be his representative before the Almighty. The good news is that what Job was longing for, we have in Jesus. He's our High-Priest, our Advocate, our representative, our go-between. Job was asking for a representative for different reasons than we do, but the principle remains that “if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” Aren’t you glad?
Lord Jesus, you're the perfect High Priest for me. I trust you, and I thank you, and I love you. I don’t have to rely on sparks in the dark. Your coming has lit up our world like the brightest noon-day sun.